Yesterday afternoon George Mason lost to Saint Louis for the third straight time in less than a year. The level of effort and execution was just not there for Mason and it was probably their worst performance on the season. Nothing was going right from the start and early fouls on Marquise Moore and Jalen Jenkins really ground the offense to an early halt. It didn’t get much better in the second half even though they shot the ball much better from the field. Everyone seemed to be missing shots at the foul line and just making bad decisions on both ends. The overall flow of the game was weird from the start and the fouls called were inconsistent but Mason still had plenty of chances to climb back in. They only had 11 turnovers on the day but it seemed like Saint Louis was able to capitalize on every single one of them (14 points off turnovers). Sure the Billikens were desperate for a win and it definitely seemed like they wanted it more, but when Mason has been out-willing their opponents all season long with better effort; it was difficult to watch them go down in this one.
Moore again managed a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds but it was tough for this team to comeback after shooting just 22% in the first half. Jaire Grayer came off the bench for 16 points but still missed a ton a shots. So did Otis Livingston II, who has been in a bit of shooting lump lately. They are just not getting consistent production from anywhere outside of Marquise Moore. Freshmen Boyd, Kier, and Newman who often can provide a spark on offense, all struggled to make an impact. Entering this game they had been shooting the ball well from behind the three-point line in conference games but were 5-of-15 from there in this one. Combine that with eight missed free-throws and it’s difficult for them to break 60.
Dave Paulsen said all preseason that games like this were going to happen but after Mason’s earlier winning streaks it sure seemed like they wouldn’t drop a conference game to such a bad opponent. They certainly don’t seem like a team lacking experience when they play tough on the road but we’ve seen this before in the Mount St. Mary’s game. The problem is Mason relies on going full speed and out-working their opponents in order to win. This is important especially on defense but the problem is they need to be “up” for every single game and can’t look past anyone. Marquise Moore is having a great year and so is Jalen Jenkins, but it’s not like these are guys that the rest of the team can just sit back and watch score 25 points in games like this. They have to play tough at both ends of the court and totally be in sync as a team. That is difficult for any coach to replicate every game and Mason was able to do it for awhile but it’s a long season. Hopefully this win was a gut punch they needed to realize they can’t take games off in the Atlantic 10.
[Photos by Bill Bride]